Meet the Team: Nicole Straight, Fairfield County Site Director

 

Hometown/Current City:
Los Gatos, CA/ Westport, CT

What is your role at Community Plates?
Fairfield County Site Director.

What’s on your desk?
I don’t use a desk, I do everything on mobile so I can work anywhere.  I’m sitting on the couch at the moment!

What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m an avid poker player and have been playing for the past 10 years. I love to listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Star Talk podcasts among many others. I’m also a self proclaimed music nerd and dream of dj’ing, but I get too tired after 10:00 pm…

How/when did you first become inspired around issues of American food insecurity?
I’ve worked in the food industry for the past 15 years, and have always been shocked at how much food gets thrown away while prepping.  It’s always been a source of frustration that chefs didn’t creatively repurpose the scraps, it would feed so many hungry people.

Who or what inspires you most?
I have been practicing Buddhism for the past 13 years, and am always inspired by the wisdom and gentleness of Sharon Salzberg and Pema Chodron.

If there is one thing you recommend we could do to end hunger our communities, what would it be?
Slow down.  We are all so consumed with our own “busyness” that we forget to slow down and notice people.  You’d be surprised how taking just a little time to give a little service can help so many people.  It also feels really good.  We don’t have to do these big global things to help,  choosing to take one small action of giving service, really does make a very big difference.

Meet Miss Joyce of Wilson Food Pantry in Stamford, Connecticut

September is #HungerActionMonth and Community Plates is spreading awareness by highlighting some of our local hunger advocates. Did you know that our volunteers deliver food to more than 25 pantries and kitchens across Fairfield County each week? Wilson Pantry in Stamford is particularly special to us, as you can see from this post written by food runner Sam Mauro after a recent visit.
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missjoyce2 I walked into the basement pantry on Wednesday afternoon and found Miss Joyce sitting in her chair, sorting through some apples and bags of greens. “You guys done good by us this week,” she said, referring to the bountiful produce that some of our food runners dropped by the pantry. She was in a joyful mood despite the oppressive heat.

Have you met Miss Joyce yet? She’s the southern transplant that founded the food pantry at Wilson Church in Stamford, Connecticut. What started out as her retirement project soon turned into a two-day a week commitment for the past 11 years. Her goal for the pantry is simple; to make sure that every one of the 300 families she serves every week has a solid diet. She adds, “You help us in a great way to meet that goal.”
missjoyce1 Wilson Pantry isn’t a fancy operation. Miss Joyce operates out of a church basement with minimal refrigeration or storage space and she hands out food only once per week. She and her volunteers start every Wednesday putting together grocery bags for each family that will come through their doors on Thursday afternoon. It isn’t rare that Community Plates is often the only source of fresh fruits and vegetables for the pantry. The other food banks that donate typically only have bread products, and in the words of Miss Joyce, “You can’t grow strong kids on bread alone.”

Miss Joyce has a soft spot for the children that come through the pantry. She explains that many of the families have upwards of 5 kids and she gets to know every one of them. These families rely on Wilson and the efforts of groups like Community Plates to feed all of those mouths. Often the parents work but just don’t make enough money to pay all of the bills. Miss Joyce always tries to stash away some goodies for her pint-sized patrons, but, she mentions with a heavy heart, at the end of the day, there isn’t enough food to go around for everyone.

missjoyce3Usually when you drop at Wilson Pantry, volunteers are ready to help unload and bring the food right in from your car. But if you have a few extra minutes, go in and introduce yourself to Miss Joyce. She loves thanking volunteers in person and showing them her labor of love. And if you want to go the extra mile, ask Miss Joyce if you can volunteer on a Thursday to help hand out the food and see the impact of your efforts up close.

Kitchen Crawl Culinary Fundraiser in Connecticut

Community_Plates_Fundrasier_CT_2016_Kitchen_Crawl

WHAT

Chefs and restaurants are working to end hunger together in Connecticut, for an event to benefit Community Plates on Saturday, October 8, 2016 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Chefs from Pearl, Rothbard, Nom-eez, The Spread, and Vespa will cook for you. Wine & Beer is  provided by Stew’s Wines, with media sponsor Moffly Publications.

To purchase tickets, visit the Kitchen Crawl on Eventbrite.com.

WHEN

Saturday, October 8, 2016 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT)

WHERE

Westport – Westport, CT

TICKETS

Food Donor Spotlight: Mrs Greens New Canaan & Fairfield

Meet our Community Plates donors. These organizations, companies, restaurants and markets are part of our community dedicated to helping eliminate hunger in the U.S. Our donors are the backbone to what we do, and provide the food that volunteer food runners rescue and deliver to our partner agencies.


 

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photo c/o lifesabowl.com

Mrs Greens New Canaan & Fairfield

Mrs Greens has been an active donor to Community Plates Fairfield County for two years, providing fresh, organic produce, dairy, bakery items, and much more each week.

– Tom Hauser, Fairfield Site Director

Location: New Canaan and Fairfield, Connecticut

Local Site: Community Plates Fairfield County

About: Mrs. Green’s Natural Market is a neighborhood store, passionately committed to clean, natural foods. Dedicated to health and sustainability. Devoted to  customers who care deeply about the foods they eat.

Locations: Locations across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-West and Canada

Websitehttp://mrsgreens.com

Partner Spotlight: Bridgeport Rescue Mission

Meet our Community Plates partner agencies. These local organizations receive our rescued food from food runners and deliver them to food insecure families in the cities where we operate.


 

Bridgeport Rescue Mission

Location: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Local Site: Community Plates Fairfield County

About: Bridgeport Rescue Mission was founded in 1993 to address the issues of hunger, homelessness and addiction in coastal Fairfield County. The Mission works to provide of food, shelter, clothing, education, job training and residential discipleship for the urban poor and addicted.

Mission: Bridgeport Rescue Mission fights poverty from the inside out as we embrace the urban poor and addicted with the compassion of Christ, offering hope and healing for a changed life.

Programs: Food Outreach Program, New Life Discipleship Program, Emergency Shelter for Men and Women, Guest House for Women and Children, Clothing

Statistics

  • On any given night, over 1,000 people are homeless on the streets of Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford, and there are more than 200 homeless people in Bridgeport’s downtown area.
  • 37.6 percent of children in Bridgeport live below the poverty line.
  • 16.2 percent of families in Bridgeport live below the poverty line.
  • 18.4 percent of individuals in Bridgeport live below the poverty line.

Location

Bridgeport Rescue Mission
1069 Connecticut Avenue, Unit 2B
Bridgeport, Connecticut

Contact

Website: bridgeportrescuemission.org

Email: info@BridgeportRescueMission.org